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The Scapegracers

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An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published September 15, 2020

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H.A. Clarke

4 books156 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 714 reviews
Profile Image for theresa.
294 reviews4,311 followers
February 13, 2022
After Sideways Pike, an outcast lesbian witch, is invited to perform a spell at the popular girls' Halloween party, she finds herself swept into their friendship. The girls throw killer Halloween parties, curse boys and try to find Sideways a girlfriend, all while exploring their powers, learning about the dangers of being a witch and forming their own coven.

This book is an ode to teenage girls, to weirdos, to friendship. It’s feral and raw and everything I wanted it to be and more. This book has quickly become a new favourite of mine and I really want this review to do it justice. So, I’m going to do this a little differently. Below you will find an incomplete list of reasons to read The Scapegracers by Clarke. But first, let me introduce you to my witchy girls, the Scapegracers.
‘Fucking Christ, I was supposed to be Sideways the spooky lesbian weirdo. I had a fucking reputation to maintain, and it would not withstand a nickname like Lamby. Lamby. Goddamn it.’

Let’s start with Sideways Pike, our main character. I feel like this quote pretty accurately sums her up: a scary grump on the outside and softie on the inside. I absolutely adore Sideways and really enjoyed reading from her perspective. I found myself relating to her a lot, particularly her struggles with feeling like ‘enough’ and navigating friendships.
‘God, she must be made of silk. Lila Yates, the velveteen witch, who I desperately wanted to belong to, who I was ever so slightly afraid of.’

I fucking love Yates. She’s so soft, the baby of the group, she’s scared of horror films and takes any chance to cuddle or hold one of the girls’ hands and you just can’t help but love her. She is also fierce and clever and powerful because, news flash, these traits can and should coexist.
‘“Boys don’t touch my girls, I swear to God. I can be a fucking monster when I wanna be. I’m not good at a whole lot, but I’m spectacular at terrorizing people until they’ve literally lost it. I can ruin people like you wouldn’t believe. And I wanna wreck their sorry lives.”’

Daisy Brink. Daisy motherfucking Brink. This girl is so fucking fierce and reckless and will do anything for her girls. She wears friendship bracelets all the way up her arm, dots her i’s with hearts and will fuck you up with a smile on her face.
‘In that moment, illuminated by the neon lights, Jing looked like what a witch should look like. Menacing and lovely. She was pure and raw and radioactive. She was more vivid than anything else in the room.’

Jing is just incredible. She’s definitely the mum friend and cares about her friends so much. She’s also just overall fantastic and I am clearly running out of adjectives. She’s your typical beautiful popular girl who’s loved by everyone and gets away with everything (her and Daisy are street racers and I think that’s very sexy of them) but with nuance and development and feelings.
‘“Can girls not be soft and still be powerful?”’

This book celebrates female friendship, particularly that of teenage girls. These girls are all in, they’re so close and genuine and mercilessly supportive of each other and it breaks my heart. It’s truly something special and something I want to see more of in fiction. These girls, they’re soft and pretty, fierce and powerful. They’re caring, sensitive, protective; determined, ruthless, feral. They are strong female characters who embrace and celebrate their femininity or, in Sideways' case, refuse to denounce it.

I really enjoyed the writing of this book. Sideways’ distinct voice and humour bring to life an elaborate narration saturated in darkness and occult references. And as you can see from some of the previous quotes, girls are described beautifully and with such reverence. This book is lesbian to its core. I also loved the spooky atmosphere and gorgeously gothic descriptions. This line from describing Sideways’ dads’ antiques store struck me as particularly beautiful: ‘If ball gowns had skeletons, the skeletons would look like our chandeliers’. Additionally, the way spellcasting scenes were written was enchanting and so immersive, and I especially loved the emphasis on the connection between the girls while casting. And now, it’s time for an incomplete list of some of the other things I loved:

To start this list off I want to encourage you to take a moment to simply admire the beauty of the cover. Isn’t it lovely?

Unless you’re a lesbian or quite aware of our issues, you may not realise how little the word lesbian is used, especially in YA books. So seeing the word ‘lesbian’ appear not only in the book itself but on the cover is amazing! It’s incredibly affirming seeing the word ‘lesbian’ used positively and having a lesbian main character who is proud of her sexuality. I also loved how Sideways’ sexuality wasn’t a huge deal, sexuality is not used to create conflict in this book, it simply is.

This. I couldn’t write this better myself.

The Scapegracers does this so fucking well. I really hate the competitive mean girls trope or when popular girls are vapid, vain and vindictive by default and I have been waiting for a book like this, that takes that trope and turns it on its head, for the unpopular loner main character to say ‘fuck that, these girls are gorgeous, they’re fierce and I love them’.

I know, this might seem odd but sometimes I miss having fun Percy Jackson-esque chapter titles in my books as a little click bait teaser of what’s to come and this book delivered, albeit with its typical sarcasm and a touch of the occult (so, maybe not quite Percy Jackson-esque). My personal favourite being ‘If teens don’t have spirit, then what’s that smell?’

Do you want to know why just the title of the sequel made me cry? (In my defense, I had just finished and was feeling a little raw). You should probably pick up The Scapegracers.

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter

*eARC received in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley. All quotes taken from an ARC and may not reflect the final edition*
Profile Image for Lex Kent.
1,682 reviews8,718 followers
September 14, 2020
4.25 Stars. This book was weird in some of the best ways possible and I had a blast reading it. This is YA paranormal but to get technical it’s almost more magical realism with witches and at times almost borders on horror. I could see Clarke writing a horror book in the future and easily excelling at it. This looks to be Clarke's debut which is impressive if true. This is the first book in the series and I just hope the wait is not too long for the next.

Over the years I have found my love for YA steadily growing. I’ve come to realize there are about three different types of YA. There is YA that feels pretty young so that it is more for a young audience. Then there is the opposite where the YA book feels like it is written for grownups instead of teenagers. And lastly, where this book fits in, YA that makes you reminisce for your younger years. It almost feels good since it brings back feelings of a simpler time yet still filled with plenty of life defining angst. When I was a teenager, in the 90’s, teen movies had this huge boom. There were a million comedy and rom-com teen movies like Clueless, Can’t Hardly Wait, and 10 Things I Hate About You. But at the same time, there was also a rash of teen movies that were surprisingly inappropriate for us teenagers because they were filled with violence, sex or both. And yet these mostly R rated movies were marketed right to us teens and we ate them up like candy. Movies like Scream, Final Destination, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty, Wild Things, Jawbreaker, and one in particular that I watched way too much, The Craft. I loved that movie as a teen and this book reminded me of it. One of the main differences is that this book was better. This book was what I wish The Craft would have been. My 14 year-old self would have just loved this book to pieces and my 38 year-old self was pretty happy with it too.

Now I do have to mention that the writing style is very different. It’s not purple prose but it’s very descriptive. At first I was like what is this? After the first chapter or two it just clicked and became easy. It actually became so comfortable that I almost started to crave it, which is not normal because I don’t usually like overly descriptive styles... but I was hooked. So please don’t get discouraged in the beginning, give it a chance because it will eventually click and get much better.

I’m a character driven reader and that is what this book really is. If you are more of a plot driven reader, you probably will have some issues with this read. Everything in my paranormal loving heart wanted to give this book 5 stars but I could not because of the plot issues. It is just not strong enough in certain places and wanders at times. But, the characterization of this book was wonderful. It is first person so you become very connected with the main character Sideways, which is her name because she’s “not straight”. Not only do you become connected with her, but because of the overly descriptive writing style, you feel, see, hear, and even smell what she does. This psychic distance is so wonderfully close and is exactly why I love a well written first person story. While this is in first, this is a book with an ensemble cast. This story is about three other teenage girls too. What is really nice is that you feel like you connect and really know all of them, not just Sideways. That is hard to do in first but Clarke completely pulled it off, probably because this book is so character driven and overly descriptive. Yes, there are some plot issues here, but this is the first book in a series. For me this book was all about meeting, connecting and caring about the characters, and hopefully the next book(s) to come will be more plot driven.

The sexual diversity in this book was nice with lesbian, bisexual and het main characters. I don’t really think I can put a romance tag on this book, but there are wlw crushes and dates that go on. When it comes to the dates everything is very early stages and there is nothing more than a kiss or two. I’m rooting for a potential couple and I’m hoping another character finds some teenage love but I’ll have to see what book 2 holds.

I do have to mention a complaint that may seem a little petty. I hate the title! I get what it means from reading the book, but every time I look at it I read SPACE Gracers and I think oh this must be one of my new sci-fi books. Maybe I’m the only one in the world, but I cannot see this title without the word ‘space’ and if I just glanced at the cover, I would never know that this book held all this witchy goodness inside.

I can already tell by some of the early reviews that this book won’t be for everyone. As I already mentioned, if you are not a character driven reader you might struggle a bit. I have high hopes for the possibilities of book 2 including some of the plot bumps being ironed out. The magic system also needs more explanation, but what is there I really like so far. The writing style is also unusual to say the least, but I loved it. This book does end on a bit of a cliffhanger. To me it’s a palatable cliffy and not a pull your hair out cliffy. I want book 2 to come more just because I enjoyed this one so much. This book was not perfect, but it was everything I was hoping for and I’m a happy camper right now.

An ARC was given to me for a honest review.
Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
849 reviews340 followers
August 17, 2020
4 angsty STARS ★★★★✩
This book is for you if… you dig dark teenage witch vibes with a significant amount of gay and bi angst. It’s very high school-esque but satisfyingly so.

Listen, gals, anybody here who's ready to form a coven that pursues simple-minded, evil witted douchebags on the hunt for teenage girls? DM me if you have the resources. And by resources, I mean the gut and magic equipment. I'll bring the snacks and the humour.

This was kinda cool tbh? I went into this hating everyone and now I love... them all? The big strength of The Scapegracers is the way the characters are diversifying and become more likeable with every chapter.

At first, they just are a bunch of stereotypes: the mean girls, the outsider, the mysterious stranger, the jocks. Over time, their personalities stretch out from chromosome to all the colours of the rainbow, which is probably one of my favourite aspects of this book.

I've sometimes had slight trouble with the narration. In specific moments, the world building lacks details - both in relation to the individual circumstances of certain characters or the concrete details of a certain situation. A little more storytelling and description would make for a fuller picture. That's what accounts for the missing star in my rating.

The way the Vade Mecvm Magici is portrayed - a powerful collection of volumes featuring spells and magic - gave me absolute marauder feels, except it was Queen Minerva speaking herself.

They have persoality and bite and I am here for it.

What I love most about this book are the incredible vibes, which were dark, angsty, witchy and significantly gay. I couldn't get enough of it.

Friendships in high school are a great thing: they happen quickly and without much ado. They can be iron clad and fragile at the same time. That's what makes them so great.

The second biggest highlight are the many truths that are spoken by the characters, sometimes with a significant portion of humour:
‘I dodged my feelings by flipping her off.’

and other times bluntly as a backed baby ass:
‘I guess my point is that teenage girls aren’t supposed to be powerful, you know? Everybody hates teenage girls. They hate our bodies and hate us if we want to change them. They hate the things we're supposed to like but hate it when we like other things even more, because that means we’re ruining their things. We’re somehow this great corrupting influence, even though we’ve barely got legal agency of our own.’

What’s happening.
‘‘Why would you go by Sideways?’ He grimaced, looking between Alexis and I like we were twin bugs. ‘It’s because I’m not straight.’ I shot gun hands at him.’

That's Sideways for y'all. She's worked hard to establish her don't bother - this one bites social disclaimer, but literally over night she is part of a group of teenage girls that are as mean to as they are protective of each other. They form a coven that quickly gets more serious than Sideways would have ever dared to dream and she loves every minute of it.
insecurities gnaw at her more than ever
comfort zone under attack
with more power come more enemies
people who give honest compliments
evenings are no longer occasions to be lonely and mopey
hot new witch in town with significant gay vibes

writing quality + easy of reading = 3.5*

pace = 3*

plot/story in general = 5*

plot development = 3.5*

characters = 5*

enjoyability = 4*

insightfulness = 4*
Many thanks to Kensington Books, Hannah Abigail Clarke and NetGalley for providing me with a free eArc in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,132 reviews820 followers
March 29, 2020
I guess my point is that teenage girls aren’t supposed to be powerful, you know? Everybody hates teenage girls. They hate our bodies and hate us if we want to change them. They hate the things we’re supposed to like but hate it when we like other things even more, because that means we’re ruining their things. We’re somehow this great corrupting influence, even though we’ve barely got legal agency of our own. But the three of us – the four of us, counting you – we’re powerful.

On my blog.

Rep: lesbian mc, wlw li, Black sapphic mc, Chinese American bi mc, mlm side characters

Galley provided by publisher

There’s nothing like attempting to find the words to review a book you loved because you don’t actually know how to explain just how much you did love it. So if this review ends up in rambling territory, please look away.

The Scapegracers is about Sideways Pike, a lesbian witch, who finds herself the new member of a friendship group with a popular clique of girls after she does magic with them at a Halloween party. Then things start to get weird, involving a curse on a boy, a cute girl, and a creepy family of witch hunters.

The number one best thing about this book hands down was how it centered on a group of girls. And a group of girls who would do anything for one another, at that. Which, I think we can all agree, is the best of tropes. Much of the focus on the book is on their friendship which meant, even when I felt the plot maybe drifted, I still loved it because of them. I just loved that these characters are supposedly “mean girls” but the book completely subverts that by giving them this intense and fierce love for one another which they extend so easily to the main character as well. In fact, there is not one instance of a girl hating another girl in the whole book (at least, not for the usual spurious reasons). It’s so refreshing.

That’s basically the selling point of this book for me, but there’s also witchcraft (and it’s interesting how it’s a world where this is normalised, I liked that take on it), and getting revenge on skeevy boys (always excellent), and my favourite character of all, Mr. Scratch (you’ll see why). It’s one of those books that I just have nothing bad to say about. I loved it and I already want to reread it. Oh, and of course, Daisy is the token straight main character. I went in expecting just a lesbian main character, I came out with two more sapphic characters, and some gay parents. Just how I like it.

Finally, it’s a grower of a book, in a good way. The first chapter may seem a little weird, but you get into it, and you become absorbed by the characters, so much so that you don’t even notice the book going by.

Which, really, just makes it the best kind of book.
Profile Image for giulia ♡❁ུ۪.
370 reviews237 followers
April 7, 2020
Thank you Netgalley and Erewhon Books for the ARC.

let's begin with the few positive things I liked about this book.
I asked for this title because it sounded exactly what I was looking for: a teen lesbian witch with her coven and possibly a sapphic love story. I thought this was going to be similar to These Witches Don't Burn and I was going to have a great time.

What I got of that? The representation and the girls friendship/coven. That was the best part of the book.

I apologize in advance if this will look more like a rant than anything else, but I can't change what I feel.

The plot is inexistent. I don't know if it's the writing or the confusing story, but I found myself not understanding what was happening 99% of the time.
The characters were really static and superficial, I didn't connect with any of them, I didn't care about any of them.
The writing was really confusing and not really of my liking. There were some choices of words or conversations that felt completely unrealistic and bland.

The premise was "portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters" and even if it's true that we do see supportive friendships in this book, I doubt the vivid characters part is truly in it.

The sapphic relationship was treated terribly. We had two scenes and we didn't see any growth between the characters, it was just to add more pages and I. just. didn't. care.

I really feel like this author used the lesbian representation to get hype for this book and then didn't care about the story or the actual characterization of any of the characters.

It definitely was a miss for me, I don't plan to continue with the series.
Profile Image for menna.
316 reviews288 followers
August 18, 2020
anyone wants to create a coven together to hex douchebags who hurt girls?

this book honestly had me at teenage lesbian witch and i loved it so much!!! the friendship!!! the magic!!! the atmosphere!!! everything is just so good!!

let me start of by talking about the friendship because it's one of my favorite things about this book!! is there something anything better than a friendship beginning with a hexing of douchebag who hurt one of them??? I THINK NOT. they also would do anything for each other??? their friendship gets so strong so fast and IM HERE FOR IT. there was this part at a party when all of them dressed up as girls from a horror movie with the hoods the color of their magic and it was so powerful i love it so much

the magic itself is nothing special just sigils and incantations but i loved every scene when they practiced a spell or made a hex or the ones at the party!!! i just love how sideways, our mc talks about it and how she feels so connected with it and it's soo good!!! the magic books are so INTERESTING they literally feel and see and can communicate with the reader and they're just SO sassy i love it!

there's also this creature called Mr.Scratch AND HE'S ONE OF MY FAVORITE EVER HE DESERVES THE WORLD

the writing takes a bit to get used to but once you do YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO STOP!! the story just pulls you in and suddenly it's over and you don't know what to do with your life because you need the sequel RIGHT NOW!!

thanks to netgalley for approving me for the arc!!!
Profile Image for Stacey-Lea.
180 reviews19 followers
September 19, 2020
4.5 stars

This is the book I’ve wanted to read since the first time I watched The Craft when I was like five, since seeing Willow go dark and obsessing over Charmed and Sabrina every night. Witches are top tier, my absolute favourite, they are the bad asses of the mythical world and this is truly the perfect fledgling witch story.

We come into Scapegracers at the very beginning of a coven’s creation. Our protagonist, Sideways didn’t expect to find her coven among the untouchable popular girls, Daisy, Jing and Yates, but that is where our story catches. These girls are just coming into their magic and with Sideways as their guide they begin to uncover the power within themselves and they’re ready for retribution so don’t cross a single one of them.

I am living for this friendship dynamic. Each girl is strong in her own way and I honestly can’t give you a favourite right now because they’re all so interesting and different. Scapegracers shows that teenage girls are powerful, it harnesses that idea and runs with it. The bonds we create as teens are fast and strong when they’re the right people. Add a touch of witchcraft on top of that bond and you’ve got some feisty girls who are ready to do some damage. This group would literally die for one another, the first instinct is to bite back and protect. The fierce love is palpable and I can’t wait to follow them through their journey.

Scapegracers is a dark atmospheric urban fantasy (with a touch of teen sapphic angst) that grips you in from beginning to end. I came for the magic but I stayed for the layered and complex characters and the insane storyline. Clarke allows the characters to live the story rather than outwardly lay it out for you so some of the worldbuilding and plot isn’t fully realised but that’s forgiven because it’s made up for in the feeling it evokes.

*ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review*
Profile Image for Mads.
179 reviews288 followers
May 15, 2021
i genuinely have no idea what happened here. everyone else i know absolutely loved this book, but it was so boring to me ??? all the characters felt super flat, the plot was just boring, and the writing style really took me out of the story. also i felt like everything was just “tell not show” but then the relationships between characters were barely even being told ??? idk, i feel kind of bad about this rating but at the same time it would be a lie if i gave it a higher rating.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,606 reviews2,051 followers
April 2, 2020
What a witchy gay mischievous delight. I'm not even mad that I unwittingly read the first book in a series because I will absolutely be back for more no matter how long I have to wait.

Sideways Pike is your classic outcast, you know, that kid who everyone says is a Satan worshipper. Except it's more true in Sideways's case. She's a witch and a loner. But the loner part all changes the night three cool girls--ruthless Daisy, angelic Yates, and direct Jing--invite her to their Halloween party to do some magic and impress the partygoers. But when the girls join Sideways' circle, the power they have together is more than anyone anticipated and it starts a sequence of events in motion that cannot be stopped.

It took me a little bit to get the rhythm of Clarke's prose, but once I got it I was absolutely in love with their style. Cool oozes effortlessly from the pages, which is saying something. A lot of the times when a book has super-charismatic characters it fails to make them come alive, or it leaves the not-so-charismatic characters as empty ciphers. None of that happens here. We get a clear picture of all 4 of the main girls, and we also get what they see in each other. Sideways is perhaps too much of the tropey outcast, but as the narrator she gets that privilege. She is a teenager grappling with a lot of self-hatred and insecurity, so of course she is going to amplify all the imperfect parts of herself for us.

One thing I really loved about this book is how I never knew what was going to happen. It is unpredictable and weird and doesn't rely too much on familiar beats to move you along. A lot of this is from Clarke's excellent worldbuilding, they teach us how magic works bit by bit, through Sideways' experience but also through the group learning and figuring things out. There is one very big exception to this, but it's a smart one, a train wreck you know is coming from the very beginning and just have to wait with your jaw clenched for the final payoff. It balances out all the weird tangents and helps keep some forward momentum.

I have no idea what's going to happen in the future with this series, but I really appreciated how even though there is sapphic longing amongst the group of girls, we do not get overly sidelined in any unrequired affections or love triangles. We also don't get too much straight-girl-homoeroticism either. All of them are at least a little bit queer--it's not always clear just how queer they are, which is absolutely accurate for teenage girls--and it may get more complicated later as we dive into their identities, but here we got just enough to flesh them out and let Sideways get to know them gradually. Sideways is the exception, the one definite-and-fully-declared lesbian of the bunch, who also happens to have two very cinnamon roll-y dads who run a spooky/awesome antiques store.

There's a great balance here of yay-friendship with super-dark-s**t, which is exactly what I needed to read in these dark times. Dark like an ink monster + witchy static electricity + friends who will have your back forever + gay gay gay = just perfect thank you where can I find 100 more
Profile Image for Jena.
548 reviews97 followers
October 28, 2022
An incredible story of queer identity intertwined into a fun, spooky adventure perfect for this time of the year. It reads a little young for me in terms of plot, but it is a YA novel, and the characters and their arcs are incredibly maturely written. I highly recommend The ScrapeGracers to fans of The Craft or Ginger Snaps.
Profile Image for Shan( Shans_Shelves) 💜.
920 reviews79 followers
September 13, 2020
Final Thoughts

”People don’t punish boys who hurt girls, because people don’t care about girls.”

You hear that?? It’s the sound of me grabbing my microphone and screaming about how EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK.The Scapegracers is an electrifying YA debut that features one lesbian witch, two explosive parties, and three badass popular girls. Put all that together with Witchcraft, morally grey girls, talking spell-books, and multiple queer/poc characters and you can see why this is a must read.

I am not lying when I say I ADORED just about everything about this book. The characters were phenomenal: both Sideways and, our trio- Jing, Daisy and Yates- were developed so well. There’s also multiple queer side characters- Sideways has two gay dads, and there’s a non-binary side character. All of each were brilliant additions to the stories and their characters never felt forced or flat. The plot was so interesting, I was intrigued from the beginning and after THAT ending, I NEED the sequel. Yes I’m aware this isn’t out until September 15th but still. The Scapegracers is such a good introduction to what I’ll imagine will be a heart pounding series.

Lets also discuss how Hannah Abigail Clarke both simultaneously highlights and destroys common negative female stereotypes. Sideways is completely different to Daisy, Jing and Yates, and if a man- or a YA author from the early 2000’s- had written this book- they’d have hated her. But not OUR GIRLS. They love Sideways just the way she is. Even when Sideways finds it hard to love herself.

”Don’t do that. Never do that. Don’t ever say your’re not beautiful, not ever, okay? Girls are just beautiful. That’s the way they are.”

No more mean popular girls or girl hate. We have moved past the need for girls hating on other girls. WE NEED MORE FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS LIKE THIS. Another aspect I loved was Daisy taking control and destroying the “dumb petty cheerleader” trope. Not only is she the fighter of the group but she does it all in heels and sometimes trainers because girls CAN LIKE BOTH.

My words can’t even describe how EPIC The Scapegracers truly is. The fact that in two days this book will be out there for teenage girls to read, makes me so happy. I highly recommend this book- especially if you like books centering on witches, girls, and some good old fashion foreshadowing on what’s to come.

Just Finished Thoughts
This was EPIC. I’m honestly offended that the average rating for this book is 3.6!! Nope. NOT HAPPENING. Halloween is around the corner and lovelies I DARE YOU to read this book. It’s got witches, talking spell books, morally grey characters, lesbians and more!! Not to sound cliche but this book was everything I didn’t even know I NEEDED.

But PLEASE ADD THIS TO YOUR TBRS!! You don’t want to miss it.!
Profile Image for Althea.
422 reviews143 followers
April 6, 2021
After the author's silence on their relationship with, and silence on the information being released about Emily A. Duncan, I have removed my rating and review for this book and will not be promoting it at least until real efforts have been made to make amends.
Profile Image for Rachel.
365 reviews164 followers
February 23, 2021
”Give us something obscene! Give us something to sink our teeth into! We demand magic!”

DNF at 50%.

This is a chaotic gay witch story that somewhat miraculously had multiple lead characters of color and I could have really enjoyed it...in theory. Who can’t get behind a protagonist with a name like Sideways? And I stan a beautiful, iridescent cover 😍

HOWEVER, there were definitely issues. Substantial issues. One, the plot. There mostly isn’t one, and there are super long scenes that don’t seem to add any value. The first hundred pages (actually more) involve the coven just hanging out after the party (which was actually an important event but dizzying and not well executed with barely any context), braiding hair and going to the movies, spitting all sorts of crazy dialogue. And this might have been enjoyable, but there was no effort made to really set the scene for the town, flesh out the characters, or give the story any depth. I wanted more background.
The writing style didn’t feel well-crafted (lol) and there was soooooo much swearing. It just felt scattered and disorganized and juvenile, like a teen was relating this long story to a friend, so didn’t bother to edit. Or maybe like a long diary entry? That’s the best way I can describe it. Just because the protagonist is a teenager doesn’t mean the book should feel like a teenager (without exceptional ability) wrote it.
And another thing that was sort of irritating was that multiple characters were gay/bi, but it wasn’t part of the story really. It felt like the book wanted credit for the reps without actually incorporating anything, besides the protagonist finding multiple people attractive and mentioning people being gay. It felt pointless, like a missed opportunity..but since the characters were flat and I never cared about them, I guess this fits.

One of the characters complains of picking at people for entertainment being insubstantial, like having bubblegum for dinner, but that’s kind of the issue with this book so it wasn’t a very self-aware statement. Eek!
Anyway, if you like the new Sabrina show you will probably be into this?
Profile Image for Agustina y los libros.
40 reviews35 followers
October 26, 2022
(Reseña en español abajo - Scroll down to read this review in Spanish)

I started reading this book without really knowing what to expect of it, but being very drawn by the premise (if it has queer witches, it probably goes straight to my TBR). I was very surprised from the very first lines, which immediately led me to be sure that this wouldn't be your average YA book (not by a long shot).

The Scapegracers
In the fictional town of Sycamore Gorge, Sideways Pike, a lonely lesbian witch in her senior year of high school, has never had many friends. But this will change the day the three most popular girls (Jing and Daisy and Yates) invite her to perform a magic trick at their Halloween party to impress their peers. The spell doesn't exactly go as planned, and its most unexpected effect is how now, in the eyes of these girls, she's an actual witch, and more of a kindred spirit than any of them could've imagined. However, things don't become precisely easier from then on, and Sideways will:
· face the imminent threat of those who want to "save" witches from their own magic by taking it from them,
· begin the search for more spell books to guide her in her path as a witch, and
· find herself immersed in a growing relationship with these girls—and all that while discovering just how much Jing and Daisy and Yates aren't who she initially thought, either.

Fed up with the popular Mean Girls vs. "just not like other girls" protagonist trope? Here, this is beautifully subverted—a connection sparks between them that even though it may seem fast, to me felt organically and carefully developed, since this is a bit more of a character-driven plot (nevertheless, there's always something happening, but with a pace that knows how to breathe in its precious and intimate everyday moments). Jing and Daisy and Yates "adopt" Sideways into their group—soon they'll find out just how powerful they are together. Also, if you enjoy reading about groups of diverse and complex characters that kinda all seem to be a bit in love with each other (cough, cough, The Raven Cycle, whose prose shares some of what I'll describe next), this will surely be the book for you.

Of course, there's not a single book that's for everyone, but this one was definitely my cup of tea. It has so much of what I look for in a story, with a poetic prose that without being dense nor pretencious builds up an atmosphere (and even an aesthetic) that turns out characteristic, personal, and that surrounds you like a spell. It leans toward darker tones, without going full horror, and it evokes many of the best cult classics of the last decades (it feels a bit like a love letter to The Craft (1996) but, to me, getting a lot of the aspects some of us would've liked to be different in these kinds of films even better, and subverting many basic tropes with excellent results—and this is referenced within the story itself, through a movie the girls watch together).

It's important to remark that this is an explicitly queer book written by a non-binary author (preferred pronouns, he/they), and this manifests in the best possible way on each page. Clarke really won me over with his quill and magic, and I can't wait to read everything else they write after this great debut (starting with the sequel, The Scratch Daughters, coming out October 2022—I'm so impatient to see how he'll expand the worldbuilding and its wonderful characters). It has so much of what I look for in a book, and it does it so well, that it has now become one of all time faves (which, I swear, is not an easy feat) (and also, I'd re-read it a thousand times, it's my new comfort book). I really hope this review will contribute to making it reach more people who, like me, happen to be its ideal audience. ♥

To sum it up, the prose, atmosphere, characters (and their friendships), are The Scapegracers' fortes. At all times, I could feel completely present in the scene and connected to the story, which entertained me lots. Of course, the personal aspect has a lot to do with it, but the way it's written did most of the job (and once you get used to it, which in my case was very early on, it's hard to put down). And in case the five stars and the whole thing I wrote weren't clear enough—if this sounds like your type of story, yeah, I can't recommend it enough.

P.S. nº1: I loved the chapter names.
P.S. nº2: And the cover ♥
P.S. nº3: The Scapegracers was one of the ten finalists for best Young Adult Novel in the Locus Awards 2021. (Congratulations, Clarke!)
P.S. nº4: I don't always write my reviews in Spanish + English. But this time, if there's an actual chance the author might read it, I really wanted him to know just how much this random ex-bookseller from Argentina loved his book. And of course, more people will be able to read this review, so, worth it.


“The ambiguity of it almost makes sense.” Her gaze softened. She looked toward me, but not at me. “I don’t know. We’re at an ambiguous age and we’re ambiguously nice and there’s a lot about us that’s sort of gray or weird, I think. Our bodies in Sycamore Gorge. The kinds of relationships we have. (...) I guess my point is that teenage girls aren’t supposed to be powerful, you know? Everybody hates teenage girls. They hate our bodies and hate us if we want to change them. They hate the things we’re supposed to like but hate it when we like other things even more, because that means we’re ruining their things. We’re somehow this great corrupting influence, even though we’ve barely got legal agency of our own. But the three of us—the four of us, counting you—we’re powerful. Maybe not in the ways that people are supposed to be, maybe in ways that people think are scary or hard to understand, but we are. Magic is ambiguous. It’s scary and flashy and everybody wants it and it really freaks people out. I guess it fits with the rest.”


Llegué a este libro sin saber muy bien qué esperar de él, pero muy atraída por la premisa (si tiene brujas queer, probablemente va directo a mi lista de pendientes). Me sorprendió mucho desde las primeras líneas, ya que me dieron la pauta de que realmente no iba a ser un libro juvenil promedio.

The Scapegracers
En el pueblo ficticio de Sycamore Gorge, Sideways Pike, una bruja lesbiana y solitaria en el último curso del secundario, nunca ha tenido muchas amistades. Pero esto se revertirá el día que las tres chicas más populares (Jing y Daisy y Yates) la invitan a que haga algún truco de magia en su fiesta de Halloween para impresionar a los presentes. El hechizo no sale exactamente como Sideways pretendía, y su efecto más inesperado es que ahora ante los ojos de estas chicas es una bruja de verdad y un espíritu más afín a ellas de lo que ninguna se hubiera podido imaginar. Sin embargo, las cosas no se vuelven precisamente más fáciles a partir de entonces, y Sideways:
· deberá enfrentarse a la amenaza inminente de quienes buscan "salvar" a las brujas de su propia magia a través de quitárselas,
· emprender la búsqueda de libros de magia que puedan orientarla en su camino como bruja, y
· entretanto descubrir cómo Jing y Daisy y Yates tampoco son como inicialmente creyó.

¿Hasta el hartazgo del trope de las populares que son mean girls versus la protagonista que simplemente "no es como las otras chicas"? Acá esto se revierte hermosamente; entre ellas se genera una conexión que aunque parezca rápida, al menos yo sentí que se desarrolla de forma orgánica y cuidada, dado que hay un mayor énfasis sobre los personajes que en sobrecargarte de trama (y sin embargo, siempre hay algo pasando, pero con un ritmo que sabe descansar en pequeños momentos preciosos de cotidianidad). Jing y Daisy y Yates "adoptan" a Sideways en su grupo y pronto descubrirán lo poderosas que son juntas. Además, si te gusta leer sobre grupos de personajes diversos y complejos en los cuales pareciera que de alguna manera todos están un poco enamorados de todos (cof cof, The Raven Cycle -cuya prosa también tiene mucho de lo que describiré a continuación-), este seguramente sea un libro para vos.

Por supuesto, no existe un libro que sea para todos, pero este definitivamente pareció escrito para mis gustos. Junta muchísimo de lo que busco en una historia bajo una prosa poética que sin ser pesada ni pretenciosa construye una atmósfera (y hasta una estética) marcada, personal, que te envuelve como un hechizo. El tono tiende a lo oscuro, sin volcarse al terror, y evoca a muchas de las mejores películas de culto de las últimas décadas (un poco parece una carta de amor a The Craft (1996) pero, al menos para mí, mejorando todo lo que me hubiera gustado que fuera distinto en películas del estilo y subvirtiendo muchos tropes básicos con resultados excelentes -y esta misma subversión es referenciada de forma muy buena a través de una película que ellas ven en el cine-).

Me parece importante remarcar que es un libro explícitamente queer escrito por une autore no binarie (pronombres preferidos: él/elle - he/they) y este hecho se manifiesta de la mejor manera posible en cada página. Clarke realmente me ganó con su pluma y su magia, y no puedo esperar a leer todo lo que escriba a continuación de este genial debut (empezando por la segunda parte, The Scratch Daughters, que sale en octubre del 2022; estoy impaciente por ver cómo sigue construyendo este mundo y a estos personajes fantásticos). Toca tan bien tantos de los puntos que busco en la lectura que se convirtió en uno de mis nuevos libros favoritos, lo cual juro que no es cosa fácil (y además se volvió parte de mi lista de lecturas confort que releería mil veces). Ojalá que esta reseña ayude a que llegue a más personas que también sean su público ideal. ♥

En resumen, prosa, atmósfera, personajes (y su amistad), son sus puntos más fuertes. En todo momento pude sentirme completamente presente en la escena y conectar con la historia, que me entretuvo muchísimo. Por supuesto que el componente personal influye mucho, pero el cómo está escrito hizo la mayor parte del trabajo (y una vez que le agarrás la mano al tono, lo cual en mi caso fue prácticamente desde el principio, es muy llevadero). Y si las cinco estrellas y todo el choclo que escribí no fueron claros: si esto suena como tu tipo de historia, sí, lo recomiendo bastante.

Postdata nº1: Amé los títulos de los capítulos.
Postdata nº2: Y la portada ♥
Postdata nº3: The Scapegracers fue uno de los diez libros finalistas para la categoría Young Adult Novel (Novela Juvenil) de los Locus Awards 2021. (!)


Profile Image for Lauren.
111 reviews54 followers
September 20, 2020
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t think this is quite the book for me.

Following getting paid to do magic at a party for the popular girls Sideways finds herself swept up by these three girls and together they’re banding together with the strength of female friendship and forming a coven.

I was really into this concept a MC who is a lesbian witch?? Amazing.

But I wasn’t super drawn into the plot and didn’t really get invested. I liked the interactions between the popular girls and sideways and the friendship they created but none of their personas really stood out to me. Certain chapters certainly gripped me more than others particularly towards the end but still felt as a whole like it fell a little short for me.

I managed my way through it but don’t think I'll read the next one.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,412 reviews193 followers
August 15, 2022
I loved this so much!! Gimme the sequel please!

Rep: white lesbian cis female MC, Chinese-American bisexual cis female side character, Black cis female side character, white cis female side character, white sapphic cis female side character.
Profile Image for nina.
93 reviews15 followers
April 8, 2020
This book was... something.
I expected so much about this book because of the “lesbain witch finds coven” stuff. I was immediately sold after reading that. But I didn’t enjoy this book at all. The writing was nothing for me and i was confused all the time. I felt like the story went nowhere, if there was even a story at all. I hoped the confusion would go away after perhaps 50 pages, but it didn’t. I thought it was just me but luckily my friends Giulia and Michelle had the same problem.
The only thing i liked about this book was the coven. I liked the friend group but at the same time, I didn’t really care about them.

The writing style was clearly not my style. The writer used sentences like “you look killer” and other stuff. Who talks like that?

It’s of course possible that other people will love this book, as I saw people did when reading other reviews. So this is all my own personal opinion of course. I won’t be continuing this series though.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,342 reviews303 followers
December 18, 2020
Wordpress Blog | Twitter | Pinterest

📗 There's a really great book hidden in these pages, but it took me a while to find it. Scapegracers is a fantastically dark, queer, witchy book set in small town America, but the actual plot was all over the place, as if it couldn't decide between the parties, the events in the mansion, the brothers Chantry or Sideway's potential love interest, so it decided to just go with all of them.

📕 The girls themselves as a group are amazing, but it took me a while to get used to them. Especially Daisy, who I felt was too extra in her aggression in the beginning. Yates was my favourite, she's soft, cuddly and constantly affectionate, the completely opposite of Daisy's physical aggression and Jing's verbal assaults.

📘 I think it would have worked better to rewind the clock somewhat, to when Sideways found the book and then arrived in town. About a third in, the book seemed to suddenly realise we had no backstory and info-dumped it all into one chapter which was jarring. Also if the search I used was correct, this book uses the word 'teeth' over 100 times.

📙 The brothers Chantry make a powerful and lasting impression early on in the book, and then... promptly disappear for the rest of it. I'm used to a villain being introduced and following that storyline to it's conclusion, which this book did not, so this was confusing. There were some major events early on at the party that were also unexplained.

📒 Overall, I really liked this book enough to read a sequel, but I can't ignore how much of a mess it was. There was no puzzle to solve but many questions, and the only thing that was really wrapped up was parties. I'm hoping to get more solid answers in the second book, or I may drop this.
Profile Image for Catherine.
415 reviews135 followers
October 29, 2020
Every year, there's a book among our most anticipated releases that ends up being a huge disappointment. Well, here's mine for 2020. This book promised everything I could possibly want in a story: witch, coven, strong female friendships and f/f romance? Hell yes. Unfortunately, I knew this wouldn't work for me since the beginning.

The writing is just really weird, I had a very hard time with it and found myself reading the same sentence over and over again to try and make sense of it. Between this and the plot that was kind of a mess with all the subplots thrown into it with no reason since they weren't used, following the story was really hard. The characters weren't really well-written and I couldn't connect with any of them. The f/f romance managed to feel forced while being barely present in this first book of the series. The only good thing I can think of is that there are indeed strong female friendships, but that's not enough.

Hannah Abigail Clarke already has their fans with their debut, and I wish them well in the future, but I personally had a hard enough time going through this book and won't be reading the sequel.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,316 reviews215 followers
October 26, 2020
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Scrapegracers was such a fun book to dive into! I had no idea I was going to meet such amazing characters and be completely invested in every little thing that they did. Speaking of, you will meet Sideways. She is a witch, an outcast, and a lesbian. One day she is basically adopted by this trio of scary but super cool girls. Together they are just completely bad ass and I absolutely adored each and everyone of them.

Now while thinking about this whole group of girls.. it made me think of some movie trailer that I just watched. I can't remember the name of it because I wasn't really paying attention to it but the trailer did seem like of familiar to the book. Anyhoo, I loved Jing, Daisy, Yates and Sideways.

Each person just made this book that more interesting and a page turner. I loved all the magic and girl power throughout this book as well. I seriously enjoyed the heck out of this and I'm super excited for the second book! Ugh, I already miss everyone and every thing in this book and I can't wait to get my hands on the physical book.
Profile Image for Lex.
82 reviews1,150 followers
November 23, 2020
This was an absolute fever dream of a book. I LOVED the characters, I enjoyed the tricky, slippery grasp on reality that it felt like our MC (faux-leather-jacket-wearing lesbian witch Sideways Pike) had, and I was EXTREMELY into the writing style (Visceral! Gritty! Tactile! Funny! If you like Gideon the Ninth, boy do I have a book for you!). My only tiny quibble is that I don't like it when books are set-ups for sequels and don't feel self-contained, but I had so much fun I'll definitely be back for the next one.
Profile Image for ac.
625 reviews111 followers
May 25, 2020
4.5 stars.

I have found it - my new favorite witchy read.

Truthfully, this book wasn't on my radar until a couple of weeks before it's original release date (it's since been pushed back to September, possibly due to COVID). For whatever reason, I was reluctant to pick up the arc that I was gifted, though the synopsis made one thing fundamentally clear: queer witches.

Sideways, a lesbian witch outcast in her high school, gets paid $40 bucks to make some magic happen at a Halloween party. She collects the girls that asked her to show up - Daisy, Jing, and Yates - as well as a mysterious girl named Madeline. The next day, Sideways wakes up to dead deer in an empty swimming pool and chalk drawings all over the basement where the party was held. Clearly, they got more magic than they bargained for.

Those who follow my reviews know that it doesn't take too much for me to like a witch book. First thing, though - I don't care for a witch story in which powers don't require ritual (think Charmed, with Prue's telekinetic powers) and the spellwork I was craving was definitely included.

I also need to talk about the writing in this book. The way the author weaves a sentence is delicious; it's the kind of writing that for me I would read several times over because I loved the way those words came together. The writing was a 5/5 for me, though, if I was being nitpicky - Halloween is my favorite time of year and I wish I could have gotten to read more of that chilly, frosty, spooky ambiance written into the story.

The only place the story fell flat for me was in plot alone. Given the fact that the book is clearly set up for a follow-up, I'm not going to judge it too harshly; I'm hoping we go into the whos, whys, hows, and whats in later books.

But some of the things that happened in this book didn't make much sense to me. For example: early on in the book, Sideways was abducted (and escaped) witch finders - people using witchcraft against witches to remove their powers. Once Sideways escaped, she came home bloodied and dirty and not only was there no real follow-up here (like, the police were never called, it was almost like that particular threat was forgotten about; also, if my parents saw me come home covered in blood, they would NOT let me leave the house to go do whatever I wanted, particularly with asking no questions).

So yeah, 4.5. I have the book preordered and can't wait for the follow-up!
Profile Image for Luca the Jellyfish Queen.
381 reviews11 followers
May 30, 2020
This was way more fun than anticipated!
I mean, I really hoped it would be fun, because there's not many things that are better than lesbian witches imo.

I had my problems with it at first. I didn't particularly like the writing style, it felt fabricated and... stilted, I guess? It took me almost a third to get used to it. But once I did, and got really invested in Sideways and her newly acquired friends, I really liked this!
And since I somehow got even worse at writing reviews that aren't bulletpoint lists, I'm just going to list all the things I liked and didn't like. Maybe I'll revamp this review once the publication date (September 15) draws near.

- The characters felt real! Which is somehow very uncommon for books with teen main characters, apparently. But these teens curse, they are kind of dicks, but are still human and lovable characters!
- It's very diverse without coming off as forced (like, how some authors force in half-formed characters just for browney points). Sideways' a lesbian. She has two dads. There's casually characters with they/them pronouns, and casual characters with sexualities all over the place and that was just cool
- I didn't particularly like the part where The Clowns (you'll know who I'm talking about once you read the book) turn up. It felt very out of tune with the rest of the story, and just felt like an underdeveloped plot Point
- that being said, I loved that Clarke put enough thought into this to have Sideways emerge from that situation not a-okay, but shaken (re: cars)
- I'm a sucker for the Found Family trope, even more so if said found family are all super supportive girls that will murder anyone to protect each other. This is my jam!
- Some things were a bit too convenient, but I'll forgive that. Writing is hard. Coming up with solutions that work but that aren't convenient is even harder.

All in all, I really enjoyed The Scapegracers! More so than I thought I would! If you like the idea of The Chilling Adventure of Sabrina, but not the execution, and want it gay: Here you have the perfect candidate!

@Erewhon and Netgalley: Thank you guys for the ARC!
Profile Image for Juan Manuel Sarmiento.
681 reviews131 followers
May 20, 2020
I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity.

The Scapegracers follows Sideways Pike, a teenage lesbian girl that makes spells for money. With an atmosphere and a writing style that reminds of a mix of Mean Girls and some generic brand of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, we're slowly getting into a plot with a boy cursed, a girl and some witch hunters.

All of this may sound good but the execution is confusing and poor. We get bombarded by the L word on the summary and at the beginning but then it comes to nothing, really. So the inclusion of a lesbian witch main character ended up being less like some diversification and more like a pamphlet. The super forced romance at the very start of the story also didn't go anywhere and was mostly unbelievable.
Plus the beginning is like super basic: a lesbian whose parents are both male and she ends up being the target of a fake rumor that says she's a radical vegan who hates humans and specifically men so her personality has to be like a badass loner witch to be cool and kind of feared. And she learns magic from the Internet and from some mysterious volumes that appears from nowhere.

There is a lot -and I mean A LOT- of empty subplots. What I mean is that there are loads of scenes that add nothing to the general story, like telling the reader the whole plot -dialogues included- of a movie they go watch to the cinema, or extensive dialogues between characters the author puts too much emphasys for we to despise them but not really. Sparkle some random mysoginistic messages and slogans to make it more pro-feminist and there you have it.

If you're a fan of Riverdale, the TV series, and Thirteen Reasons Why, with a touch of teenage witchery, then this book would probably be for you. But if you're looking for better script and more logical plots maybe you should try reading another book.
Profile Image for Abi (The Knights Who Say Book).
629 reviews94 followers
April 29, 2020
This was so good! Like, does it have flaws? Absolutely not because I love it. Was there repetitive word choice and a loose plot? Yeah, but I couldn't care yes. The characters are vivid and messy and FUN, the magic is painful and mysterious and angry, and it's filled to the brim with queer girls.

I feel like I want to describe this book by riffing on how Maggie Stiefvater describes her Raven Cycle books—Outcast girls! Scared girls! Angry Girls! Powerful girls! Collect them all! Hannah Abigail Clarke said "weird, angry high school girls are cool and valid" and then ran with that!

The writing was sometimes clunky, but it was also often beautiful, funny, relatable, and intense. For me, this book was just crammed full of deep friendship and righteous rage, and I've never read anything like it.
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